* Hafeez Shaikh says top 100 loan defaulters of each commercial bank to be targeted in first phase of loan recovery drive

ISLAMABAD: The government and the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) on Tuesday agreed to launch a drive to recover loans from commercial banks’ defaulters who got their loans written off on political basis or by using their influence, since 1971.

The decision to start a loan recovery drive was taken with the consensus of the PML-N and government teams that met in connection with the implementation of the 10-point agenda presented by PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif. State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor, Shahid Hafeez Kardar, briefed the meeting on the details of the loans waived off during the last 40 years.

After the meeting, Federal Minister for Finance, Dr Hafeez Shaikh, informed reporters that both the sides had agreed upon launching a recovery campaign against those who got their loans waived off since 1971. “Top 100 loan defaulters of each commercial bank will be targeted in the first phase of the drive,” he said.

The finance minister led the government’s side while the PML-N party was headed by Senator Ishaq Dar. According to sources, both the sides decided to continue holding meetings for the next three days to reach a consensus on the implementation of the PML-N’s 10-point agenda.

The finance minister told the journalists that the meeting was informed that out of the total two million potential taxpayers in the country, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) would hunt some 0.7 million new taxpayers in the first phase of its drive being launched to broaden the tax net. “Details on expenditures and income of potential taxpayers have been compiled by the authorities concerned for the purpose,” he maintained.

The meeting was informed that due to the expeditious refund payment system, the FBR had been able to clear a backlog of Rs 18.5 billion refunds under the new system, the minister added. PML-N’s Ishaq Dar, while speaking to the media, claimed the rightsizing of the federal cabinet would be done in a significant manner. He said if the federal government desired the Punjab government would also cut the size of its cabinet, which had already been reduced from 40 to 16.

Dar said the federal government would present its plan to cut expenditure to 30 percent to the PML-N on Wednesday (today). It would also inform its coalition partner about the measures being taken for resource mobilisation to reduce the budget deficit.

Daily Times